Field sports and Bush-craft Day at The Ring O Bells.
On a crisp Sunday morning at the start of September it didn’t take long for the convoy of 4x4s crammed with the boys and girls of Pass It On Young Sports to spy with eagerness their new Taster Day venue. Located within the picturesque village of Compton Martin, which coincidentally is listed within the Doomsday Book, the Pass It On Young Sports Ad visors set up camp for the day within the beautiful settings of a very traditional country pub, The Ring O’ Bells. Oozing with character, inglenook fireplaces, flagstones and open land, the Ring O Bells definitely ticked all of the boxes for the crew of Pass It On Young Sports and the excitement in the vehicles was tangible. In fact (and I will dare say it), I quite literally caught many of our voluntary advisers drooling at the thought of being let loose at such a fantastic venue to perform their magic. In the blink of an eye the marquees were erected and it wasn’t long before the crack of a shotgun resonated around the tiny village. To complete the sensory entourage and add to the ambiance already created by the team the smell of wood smoke slowly seeped around the venue as Wisewoods Bushcraft Company performed one of their many traditional fire lighting and natural cordage demonstrations of the day.
Not surprisingly the car park was soon crammed to bursting point and a steady stream of visitors poured into the grounds of the pub.
Adjoining the Wisewoods marquee children were already eagerly gathering and hunkering down with files and sandpaper in their hands to learn the ancient art of stalking/walking stick making.
On touring the venue, I witnessed children taking their first introduction into ferret care and welfare from Carriad Ferrets and Julia Barrowman. The “have a go” workshops included demonstrations stretching from feeding and handling etiquette to checking for ticks and pests. For the braver amongst the crowds there was the opportunity to break out the miniscule harnesses and take their favourite ferret for a short walk around the grounds (although I am still not entirely sure who was walking who in most cases!)
Wandering further into the event and across into the adjoining field kindly opened up by a local farmer, guests were provided with a crash course in the finer art of traditional hedge laying courtesy of Malcolm on behalf of the Wrington & Burrington Hedge Laying Society. Adults and children alike were able to cut their own contributions for the demonstration hedge and received guidance on how to weave their branch into the hedge to create the perfect natural barrier.
Surveying the larger field, to the left was the fishing arena. Bob Wakeford our highly experienced fly fisherman was gladly receiving many budding fishermen to his fly fishing casting arena joining him with this task was fellow fisherman, Jim Hands, another hugely experienced fisherman from Total Angler. With a deft flick of the wrist it wasn’t long before novices were looking like professionals and the smiles radiating from their faces just confirmed their enjoyment. Pass It On Young Sports would like to thank Jason Butcher of Clay Hill Tackle Shop for the kind donation of fishing tackle used throughout the day.
Making my way to the middle of the field, two stands that proved hugely popular during the days concourse were the catapult and archery ranges. I witnessed with satisfaction several all out family battles (in most cases, the youngsters V’s their elders) trying to score the highest or hit the furthest targets, and I am pretty sure that on most occasions the youngsters triumphed their senior counterparts.
Moving further to the right were the big boy toys. With the distinct “ting, ting” sounds ringing in your ears it was patently obvious we had some keen eyed shots in attendance at the air gun range sponsored by Air Arms and Jack Pyke. Again competition seemed prevalent amongst the visitors and large crowds formed throughout the day to watch the sure shots perform.
For those with a passion for something more beefy, Rob Eaton provided expert clay shooting tuition converting the greenest of novices into a hunting master. I witnessed several visitors (ladies particularly) receiving coaching throughout the day on how to shoot the clays and from the initially shocked reactions as to the powerful force of the gun to the wide grins as they left, this was definitely a stand worth visiting. Our many thanks go to Rob Eaton, Hull Cartridges and Blagdon Valley Shooting Club for sponsoring this stand.
For those with an aversion to the noise or the kickback of the shotgun a fantastic laser shooting range had been erected within the entrance marquee for you to hone your skills courtesy of Simon Pritchard and sponsored by Arrow Lazer Shot.
After such a fun packed and eventful day, open pub doors were a welcome sight to many of the day’s revellers. Added to that, the smell of delicious cuisine filtering through the air offered an invitation too good to refuse for weary guests to take refuge at one of the many dining tables. Whilst the children, who, no matter what activities had been thrown at them during the day, still found themselves full of life and actively making use of the pub’s extensive play area, shattered parents could sit back and sample the pub’s extensive menu and sup on any of the fine wines and ales on offer … well it would have been rude not to!
If you are reading my account of the day and thinking to yourself this sounds like the sort of event you would have loved to have come to but sadly missed, never fear, Pass It On Young Sports will be following tradition and returning for the second time this year to hold a taster day at what has to be one of the most beautiful venues we are privileged to be invited to, Jacklands Trout and Coarse Fishery, Tickenham.
For those who attended at the start of this year, what more can be said of the location. Lying within the beautiful Yeo Valley of North Somerset this friendly and welcoming well stocked fishing lakes caters for both fly and coarse fishermen alike. As with the event today all the fond favourite activities will be on offer along with experts on hand providing tuition in both coarse and fly fishing and making use of the stocked lakes. With a farm shop offering local produce and a tea room supplying home made cake to die for what more could the seasoned or not so seasoned taster day attendee ask for.
The taster day is free to all members and non-members can sign up on the day or in advance through the Pass It On Young Sports website (www.pass-it-on-young-sports.org.uk). Alternatively, non members can pay a donation of £1 per person on the day.